Posts Tagged 'thread'

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: adventures with brick stitch

Design copyright Veon Schunzel

A while back, my family and I started going to Native American pow-wows. These events are a great way to spend the weekend with your loved ones, and to experience some Native American crafts and culture.

At the Schemitzun in Connecticut, for example, 500 or so tribes are represented in a 3 day festival, hosted by the Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation. This wonderful 3-day event, which tends to take place in late August or early September, features tribal dance competitions, drumming and live music, and amazingly tasty food (don’t worry vegetarians, there are options for you! try the vegetarian fry-bread, like an open-faced bean taco). Best of all though, in my opinion, are the AMAZING handmade craft (and craft-supply) booths.

For you jewelry enthusiasts out there, events like the Schemitzun can simultaneously be the best – and worst – places for you. You will be absolutely bowled-over by the quantity and quality of handmade jewelry. Gorgeous inlaid stone pieces are always present in vast quantities, but my personal weakness is the beaded jewelry. I tend to fall in love with just about every item I see, and I usually can’t resist bringing home a few pieces. Being a crafter though,  my initial thought is often an average between “OMG pretty!!!” and “I want to MAKE that!!!!”

Luckily, these festivals often attract lots of glass-bead vendors just for people like me (and you!) who get inspired to make things at home. If you want to try your hand at something like the earrings I made above, you can join the hordes of enthusiastic beaders pawing through bins and bins of beautiful glass seed beads and hand-carved stone pendants at a pow-wow. Of course, these materials can also be purchased online, but not much beats the thrill of  “the chase” in finding your perfect colors in person. And you might even be able to haggle your way to some discounts at a festival…

If you’d like  to read more about the beaded earrings above, which were hand beaded using the brick (a.k.a. Cheyenne or Comanche) stitch, please follow the link below.

Happy beading everyone!

Continue reading ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: adventures with brick stitch’


In Praise of Miho

I love the internet for many things. It is the starting point for many of my craft obsessions, my go-to for new recipes, the way I start to learn about interesting subjects (including how to make, do, or find just about anything), and even my reinforcement that no one is alone in the universe. I mean really, google something. Anything. No matter what you type, chances are someone else is into it, or wants to learn about it too. It might even be someone on the other side of the world, and you now have something in common with them.

And there are so many people willing to give of themselves, to share knowledge about their passions, for free, in this global forum. Their enthusiasm for a subject is so great, that they must gift it to the rest of us. Case in point: Miho Takeuchi. She has a lovely website, Studio Aika, in which she shares quite a bit of information about the wonderful Japanese art of sashiko. It is a tradition of embroidery that seems to have originated as a way to conserve cloth when clothing started to wear out, or to create insulation through the layering of fabrics, much as a quilted bed comforter does. In addition, sashiko is delicate and beautiful, even mesmerizing with its intricate patterns and geometric shapes.

Miho Takeuchi, the proprietor of Studio Aika, gives some very interesting background about sashiko, both as a domestic necessity, and as an art form. She also shares much of her own work on the website. What makes her website above and beyond though, to my opinion, is all of the extra information that  Miho gives about Japanese culture, particularly in relation to art, history, and daily living. The site also features a blog, and a shop tailored very specifically to high quality sashiko and quilting supplies. In many cases, as part of the product information, Miho gives tips as to what to look for when buying supplies for sashiko crafts. If you sign up to receive updates and special extra information (which I highly recommend you do), you will receive a free sashiko pattern to your email. And Miho will send newsletters periodically, offering pattern instructions, interesting articles about sashiko and Japanese culture, and even photos from her yearly trips to Japan.

Miho teaches sashiko workshops throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which you can also find out about on her website, under the “Sashiko classes and events” tab on the homepage. It appears that she keeps the class sizes small (usually 6-8 people) so that all of the attendees can learn as much as possible in a single session. Miho seems to be a born teacher, just given the way that she constructs her website, and the way that she words her email newsletters and informational articles. I only hope one day that I am lucky enough to attend one of her workshops.

Also, when I signed up for the newsletters back in February, I received a personalized email asking me – by name – if I received my free pattern correctly. The email also invited me to email Miho with any questions I might have in the future. I responded to Miho telling her that I really enjoyed her website, and I received a very kind email in return. It is quite obvious to me that Miho cares about the people who follow her site, and pays attention to their feedback. You can really tell when someone loves what they are doing in life, and that passion is very evident in Miho Takeuchi. Please visit her website, and please share any sashiko or Japanese craft experiences here.

Talk to you soon and happy crafting!

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